A Capitulation of National Rights

A simple review the proposed “Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey” reveals one of the most obvious objectionable clauses and it reads as follows:

“Confirming the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law.”

The meaning of the clause is clear in that the present border which has been the de-facto frontier between the republics since 1991 and before that the Soviet Union going back to the early 1920s is being confirmed by Armenia as the legal border. More importantly that confirmation is based on those “relevant treaties of international law” that established or referenced that border.

The obvious 800 pound gorilla in the room no one in the Armenian government is speaking of is the fact that one treaty that established that border and granted Nakhichevan and Karabakh to Azerbaijan was the Treaty of Kars. That treaty has never been ratified or confirmed by the Republic of Armenia because it was a treaty between the Soviet Russians and the Turks to which Armenia was neither a sovereign nation nor in a position to agree to or enter into of its own volition. Hence, Armenia never had standing to enter into such an international agreement and ergo cannot be bound by it or so we thought until these Protocols. Since Armenia’s reestablishment in 1991 Turkey has repeatedly referenced this issue to be it most burning dispute with Armenia.

This begs the question what are Armenia’s rights to territories beyond the present de facto frontier?

The current Republic as the successor to the First Republic has rights to territories that rested under that predecessor Republic’s jurisdiction which included jurisdiction and possession to Kars, Ardahan, Igdir, Kaghisman, Sarikamish and Nakhichevan, to say nothing to the legal title granted by President Wilson’s 1920 International Arbital Award to additional territories including Van, Erzerum, Trabizond ,Bitlis and more.

Certainly the Armenian Republic as well as the Armenian nation would be better served by seeking an adjudication of it territorial rights before the International Court of Justice at the Hague rather than simply ceding it rights via a three page “Protocol” that appears to be the product of the unequal bargaining power of these two states.

We doubt history will favorably judge those charged with the responsibility of leading and protecting the Armenian Republic if they give up national rights as great as these for the mere agreement to open up diplomatic relations with a neighbor.

The Armenian nation must insist on the issue of its territorial rights to be decided in a neutral forum free of coercion, corruption and threats. The current clause as it stands must be excised from the Protocol and the issue must be resolved by international law.

The present frontier can only be recognized as just that the present border pending adjudication of rights by the International Court.


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  1. Armen said:

    However, even if a court rules in our favor – we still need to ‘enforce’ the ruling by an outside court meaning a military invasion so the only rule that actually works over there is the law of the JUNGLE and ‘might is right’ – nothing has changed in 600 years

  2. papken hartunian said:

    The existing of these protocals is a clear evidence that Turkey does not have legal right to those territories, otherwise it would not have been an issue. Armenian must stop here and use these protocals go after Republic of Turkey to demand returning the Western Armenia.

    It is a violation of the Constitution of Republic of Armenia to give up the legal title to Western Armenia.

    If such a treaty ratified by the existing leadership, clearly it will be not be enforceable byn the next ligitimate government of the Republic of Armenia.

    Long Live Armenia! Long Live Artsakh, Long Live Diaspora!

  3. StepanPiligian said:

    Unfinished business. This is an excellent article on one of the most fundamental issues, It has been 90
    years, but Armenia is now in a position to address our issue of “territorial integrity” The government of Armenia has morale and legal responsibility to represent the interests of our nation. We have waited many years for this dialogue and thay must cede it to a document that is focused on being politically expedient.
    Armenia was never a direct party tothe infamous Treaty of Kars. Relations with Turkey are desired, but only
    with integrity. Not a show for the EU ,but the beginning of a relationship that will enable healing. Continual
    denial of a genocide that destroyed 2/3 ofour peopleandended a 2500 plus year presence in Anatolia is
    not a relationship.
    There is no single greater issue in the Armenian community than this unfinished business with Turkey. It infuriates Armenians to have suffered in this way; only to be greeted with denial by Turkey. The border definition is of equal importance. The lack of closure is a sourceogf great consternation in our community. In terrms of possibilites, for the first time in over two generations, we have an opportunity to address them….. if we have the will and courage.

  4. Bagrad Nazarian said:

    One important detail missed by this great article and Stepan P: The 1920 Kars Treaty was signed between the Bolshevik state in Moscow which was not recognised by anybody yet, except as an illegal/terrorist dictatorship, and by the Kemalist “Grand National Assembly” in Ankara, in essence another terrorist regime (Young Turk war criminals and Genocide perpetrators as Taner Akcam has demonstrated) not recognised by anybody while the de jure Ottoman government was sitting in Constantinople – the Kemalists were recognised as the government of the Republic of Turkey after 1923.

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